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Question
Dear Bobby, I am ready to contact agents. I have Jeff Herman's book loaded w/ names.
1. Is there a limit on how many I should query?
2. I live near NYC so should I contact those agents or spread the search to the west coast?
You have helped me before which I greatly appreciate.
Thanks, DS

Answer
Congratulations on being ready to find an agent!

At one time getting a New York agent was supposedly essential, but the Internet has changed everything, and location is no longer an issue. Donít limit yourself to New York agents; itís hard enough to find one at all, and if you find a good one in Seattle and he sells your book, you wouldnít mind, would you?

To get started, first select only agents who handle manuscripts in your genre. A book that lists agents is a great start, but the information in it cannot possibly be as up to date as a Web site, and agents often change their interests, stop accepting submissions, retire, and even (the nerve of them) die. To make sure you donít waste your time and money, go to the Internet and check the Web sites for each agent you select. Make sure each one is still accepting manuscripts, and then, most importantly, determine whether the agents accept simultaneous submissions. Those details answer the question of how many to query. In other words, plan to query all the agents who accept manuscripts in your genre, but double-check the agentsí status and then contact the ones who accept simultaneous submissions first. Be sure to say in your query letter that yours is a simultaneous submission.

Some people limit their mass mailings to ten or twenty agents at a time, which is easier to track. If about half of them respond in the negative, you can send out more queries to those still on the list, until youíve completed the list of agents who accept simultaneous submissions.

If you still havenít found an acceptable agent by the time you go through the list of agents who accept simultaneous submissions, you can next send queries to those agents who require exclusive submissions, but you have to send those out one at a time, and be sure to say in your query letter that it would be an exclusive submission.

Most agents respond with pat answers of ďI didnít love it,Ē or ďItís not right for me,Ē which wonít help much. Some agents donít respond at all, rather than send a rejection note. A few, however, may actually give you some feedback, and if that happens, you may want to rethink the manuscript. Donít rewrite it on the word of one single agent, but if two or more agents give similar feedback, it may be time to take the manuscript through another revision before continuing the search for an agent.

I hope you have signed up for The Writers Network News, my free newsletter for writers. Go to www.zebraeditor.com and click on "Free Newsletter."

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Bobbie Christmas

Expertise

Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.

Experience

Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Organizations
Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Publications
Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Education/Credentials
Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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